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The Future of GM Animals Today

by the Fish Site Editor
11 November 2008, at 12:00am

US - Amidst the chaos of the presidential race, new rules were passes by the US Food and Drug Administration that allow the marketing of foods from genetically engineered farm animals.

TheBostonGlobe reports that unlike clones - which are weirdly procreated from a single parent but are otherwise conventional creatures - engineered animals have had their DNA codes rewritten to endow them with traits never before seen in those species.

Among the gene-altered animals angling to appear on our dinner tables are farmed salmon with novel DNA that makes them grow faster; pigs with bacterial genes that make their manure less environmentally damaging; and perhaps even cattle bearing fish genes for omega-3 fatty acids, says TheBostonGlobe. Imagine filet mignon as healthful as fillet of sole.

The news team says that the good news is that the agency wants to regulate gene-altered animals under its strict "new animal drug" provisions. Usually novel foods can be introduced into the food supply without restrictions, and the FDA does not get involved unless problems arise. But under the new animal drug provisions, each new kind of animal produced through genetic engineering would have to get FDA approval before being commercialized, the way new drugs are approved. That's the right approach for dealing with the biological complexities and cultural sensitivities of allowing gene-altered animal products on supermarket shelves.

The bad news is that the drug approval process in this country is extremely secretive. Under its provisions it would be illegal for the FDA (without a company's permission) to reveal that it had even received an application for a new gene-altered food animal until after the agency had approved it for marketing. Once approved, there would be virtually no recourse available to consumers.

the Fish Site Editor